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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A little bit about Irony

Last year on this day we were in Vietnam. The day before, while visiting the beautiful ancient capital of Huế, I gleefully (though somewhat to CSB’s chagrin, because he finds masks creepy & thinks I tend to overdo things) posed next to ancient statues wearing my Happy Hilary mask, so confident was I of the following day’s victory and all those newfound opportunities to refer to Madam President.
While in Saigon, otherwise now known as Ho Chi Minh City but more or less universally still called Saigon, I had located the house* where my Belgian grandparents, my mother, and uncle had lived from 1939 until 1941, when they were evacuated, along with most European women and children, as the Japanese army was invading. And quickly. Because she was a Belgian woman, my Bonne Maman had never voted because women were not granted suffrage in Belgium until 1948, and from 1929 onwards she lived in Egypt, Indochina, California during the war, then Egypt again. She finally came to the US in 1956 because that was where all her grandchildren were. (Such is the narcissism of grandchildren; someone else might have said she came because her children were here, married to Americans.) My grandparents never became citizens, preferring to remain “Resident Aliens,” and thus ensure they could enter the Belgian section of Heaven – Bonne Maman told me this, seriously, somewhat.
While visiting Vietnam, I thought a lot about my beloved grandmother, who never voted; I had weeks earlier cast my absentee ballot for Hillary, and eagerly anticipated the election results.
We all know how very wrong that went.
Which is a long way to introduce the question of irony.
Was it ironic, my posing in a Hilary mask next to a statue of a bodyguard of Emperor Khải Định, whose first wife left him in order to become a nun?

I am pondering irony these days.
My mother received in the mail a “Certificate of Recognition” from the Alzheimer’s Association. She handed it to me because, sometimes, when she remembers, though remember is no longer the correct word, she gives me her mail to ‘deal with’. How ironic is that? The certificate recognizes her “extraordinary commitment to the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.” If so, it is a fight she has lost. Presumably, she received this ridiculous ‘certificate’ because, back when she was still writing checks, she sent some money to the AA and they would like her to send some more. To this end she receives countless solicitations at her new address in Hastings, even though I have never given any organization her new address. It is a miracle of the modern phenomenon of annoying requests for money.
Irony is generally defined as a situation that is not what it seems, that differs from what was expected. Irony is often used for comic effect, but at times is tragic. (See the Greeks. See me sporting my Hilary mask.) The word comes from the Greek, eirōneia for ‘simulated ignorance.’
Another chapter of the Azheimer’s Association sent my mother Christmassy address labels, presumably to affix to the Christmas cards she is no longer capable of writing or sending. They also have her address slightly wrong. What part of that is ironic?
Does it differ from the irony of the multiple books stacked on her nightstand about how to prevent memory loss or how to improve your memory?
Or how does it differ from the irony of me buying a book at Costco this morning called The End of Alzheimer’s, even though I have read lots of actual science books about Alzheimer’s and have spoken with doctors and visited labs and attended seminars? And I know damn well that there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s and I even know that most of the things we are told can stave off the advance of Alzheimer’s, like practicing yoga, speaking multiple languages, and eating healthy, are exactly what my grandmother and mother did all their lives.
Maybe that is not so much ironic, as delusional.

In literature, I love irony. Also in life. Irony makes life interesting. If I refer to someone as living in an “Irony-Free Zone” I do not mean it as a compliment.

On the other hand, this morning I woke up to un-ironic, good news from the elections, locally and in various other states.

* This is true. I knew they had lived at 216, rue Pelerin, and so with the help of an old map and a charming man at our hotel, I figured out that rue Pelerin is now rue Pasteur, and we went to that number to find that there was a house, that looked just like the house in the picture of my mother looking coy in the front yard. It was still there and was now Soul Music & Performing Arts Academy (SMPAA). On the tile floors where my mother once roller-skated indoors (so she claimed) Vietnamese children now dance hip-hop.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

How I feel about littering.



Perhaps we can cling to the pretense that this blog post is simply a vignette, a glimpse into My Life on Broadway.
But honestly, it is a rant. About littering. And litterers.

Picking up litter does not make me feel good or hopeful or even compassionate about my fellow creatures. Picking up litter is the sort of task that fills you with despair; unless of course you are picking up litter as a form of punishment, and then perhaps you can feel at least you that are getting out and about, working your way toward an early parole.

We live on a main road in a smallish town. So main that it is called Broadway, which is almost as main as Main. Between Broadway and the stone wall that officially demarcates our property line is about five yards of greensward. Technically that greensward belongs to the county because Broadway is a county road, but because CSB mows it, and because I pick up the litter and trim the branches on the dogwood and forsythias we planted, I feel rather proprietary about this greensward.

Hence the weekly litter collection. Yesterday there was quite a haul: the usual cigarette packs, cellophane wrappers, fast food cups and their plastic tops and straws, colorful empty bags of BBQ chips and other toxic foods, one used condom, a torn shopping list alluding to pork, or maybe portabellas, or possible porridge, 3 O’Doul's cans, 2 plastic water bottles filled with yellowish liquid that I have to assume is urine, and one dead skunk.

Yes, I was wearing gloves. I didn’t always, but these days I am about those gloves the way converts are about the church: more pious than the Pope.

First, those O’Doul's cans. The thing is that every single time I pick up litter on our greensward I find at least one and usually more empty cans of O’Doul's. Someone out there is a guy (I assume it is a guy; call me prejudiced if you must.) heading south on Broadway, to or from work, and just before our house, he finishes his O’Doul's and tosses it onto the grass. Without a thought for the person, me, who will have to pick up that can if that patch of grass is not to one day look like a tornado-damaged recycling center. Has he ever once considered what it would look like if I never ever picked up his empties? Should I leave his empties in situ and give him pause? Or should I make a sculpture – say of an upthrust middle finger – out of those empties? I seriously think about these possibilities. If I were ever to actually witness this person tossing out an O’Doul's can, what would I do? Being the wimp I am, most likely hide behind the stone wall and squint in an effort to see the license plate and fail because my eyes are terrible. I prefer to imagine hurling myself at his speeding car and then proceeding to have a useful conversation about the evils of littering and then the O’Doul's guzzler would have a St. Paul at Damascus moment and we would form an anti-littering alliance.

In an effort to further extrapolate the character of the O’Doul's litterer I looked it up on line and found this on an official website:
O’Doul’s is a Low-Alcohol ( %0.05) beer produced in Missouri by Anheuser-Busch.
O’Doul’s has a mild, sweet taste with a slightly dry finish. O’Doul’s Amber has a rich, slightly sweet taste with flavorful hop finish.
 
It receives a rating of 1.98 out of 5. In other words, “awful”. In “BEER STATS” (I have no idea what this means), O’Doul’s ranks #44,264. (Sadly, that is probably not unlike my Amazon sales ranking, which I refuse to look at now, even for the purposes of completely transparency.)

According to the “Urban Dictionary” website:
O’Doul’s is “The most pointless beverage in the world: a non-alcoholic beer. If you're gonna drink fucking beer, take it like a man. O'Doul's actually has 0.5% alcohol, so if you can down about 100 you might feel a little buzz.
Jimmy drank 100 O'Doul's and was hospitalized for a water overdose...completely sober”

(I do not endorse the above statement. “Take it like a man”? Please.)

Seguing quite naturally from the empty beer cans, we come to the water bottles filled with pee. I am not a camel, and I know what it is like to experience what is so elegantly referred to as “urgency”. So I can sympathize with someone’s need to pee, while in a moving car. I really can. That has frequently happened to me, and I do what right-thinking people do: I stop somewhere and use the facilities, and absent any facilities, I find a tree or a rock. I do not litter. Of course, peeing into a bottle is not really an option for me, given the constraints of anatomy. But for males of the species it is technically possible to pee into a bottle and there is nothing wrong with that. What is wrong, objectionable, rude, lazy and downright trashy, is throwing that bottle of pee on the grass into front of my house. Or anywhere. By throwing that bottle of pee out your window you have transformed a perfectly reasonable act in response to a perfectly normal human need, into an act of selfishness and pollution.

Then there was the dead skunk. A couple of days ago, presumably around the time of his unfortunate demise, I smelled the redolent odor of Pepe le Pew and thought of my dear departed Daisy and Bruno, who for this once would not be getting sprayed. Even with my excellent gloves, I did not remove the dead skunk. I would inform CSB, and leave it at that. But I had to wonder about myself and the gradations or irrationality of my squeamishness: why do I eschew touching a dead mammal, a very mangled dead mammal with a few flies, and yet collect the bottles filled with urine of selfish littering assholes?

Meanwhile, as I was finishing my litter collection and heading back to the shed with a full garbage bag, on the other side of Broadway came the crash of drums. Just across the way, in a wide open garage, I spotted the young man practicing on his drum set. All through June he tortured some of Patti Smith’s greatest tunes. Now it was The Doors. With his view from the garage, had he ever seen the O’Doul tosser? Make yourself useful, young man.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

My Theory Regarding Language Loss in Alzheimer’s Sufferers Based Entirely on Anecdotal, Personal, and Idiosyncratic Observations of One Mother and One Grandson, Aged 6

Last weekend we went to Squam Lake for a family wedding. The ceremony itself was held on tiny Church Island. Planning a wedding on a tiny island requires excellent logistics and good luck. Cold, rain, wind, faulty seamanship, and nasty insects are only some of the things that could possibly go awry. None of the above transpired. The day was exquisite. While the bride and groom paddled away in a canoe, a large water snake was spotted curled up by the dock. But no worries. My snake-phobic sister, the illustrious officiant, never even saw the snake, thanks to some quick thinking. We had among us one experienced herpetologist, and one crazy, risk-taking, snake-loving young man. Guess which one wrestled with the serpent?

The reception was held in a barn back on the mainland. This lovely old barn was decorated with galvanized buckets of artfully arranged flowers, mostly white and blue flowers, and foliage in multiple shades of green. The next morning, we stopped by to see my brother and sister-in-law, the happy and exhausted parents of the bride, and were enjoined to take a few buckets of flowers back to New York for my mother. We did, and only about a quart of water spilled in the back of the car.

Monday morning, I carted a bucket of artfully arranged flowers to my mother’s Little Red House, and placed it, artfully, in her living room.
“What are those? The big things?”
I explained that they were flowers from her granddaughter’s wedding, and that her son and daughter-in-law had asked me to bring them to her, knowing how much she loves flowers.
“Why are they…down?” she asked, and gestured with her hand, so I understood she was referring to some pendulous fronds in the arrangement.
“They were arranged that way. Aren’t they lovely?”
“Why are they here?”
We went over the history and provenance of the flowers 3 more times.

That evening I went back to my mother’s with some garden vegetables and a book about Palladio* from the Travelers Restaurant, where you get three free books with every meal.

It was clear my mother was not adjusting well to the flowers in the bucket, not matter that they were so artfully arranged.
“It’s too …” she said, and gestured again.
“Messy?” I suggested.
“Yes, they are messy,” she said.
“I can fix that.”
I lugged the bucket to the table on her patio and brought out several small and medium size vases. Back at the Orchard, my mother had amassed what must have been one of New England’s largest collection of vases. Her vases filled an entire, floor to ceiling, closet. They came from all over the world, and in many sizes. But as in all such things, certain vases were favored, and over the years I recognized that the large Costa Rican painted vase would always be in front of the corner window in the kitchen. The slender silver flute would always be on the small table in the blue room, in front of my grandmother’s photo. Certain vases came in multiples, and she used them on her dining table. (Full disclosure: I too have more vases than is healthy or essential. Unlike my mother’s, which were mostly very tasteful, some of mine are quite ugly. Yet those are the hardest to get rid of. Because if I don’t keep them, who else could possibly want a vase that resembles - in fact IS - a tortured lump of clay?) My mother always arranged the flowers herself, and brilliantly. She grew Russian sage, peonies, delphiniums, astilbes, and lots of other things I never learned to name. Her azaleas came in tempestuous and exotic colors. Her arrangements did not consist only of flowers; she used pine boughs, dried stalks from the fields, bittersweet, woodruff, ferns and massive hosta leaves.

If I know anything about arranging flowers, it is because of my mother.

So there on her outdoor table, I removed all the flowers from the bucket, and extracted them from that weird green styrafoam-ish stuff that absorbs water and then degrades and gets everywhere and is such a pain to clean up. I picked through the mass of flowers, trimmed their stems and arranged them in the vases.
“Look at her,” Mom said. “She’s amazing. What is she doing?”
“I’m re-arranging the flowers in smaller vases,” I said.
“What is that, the big one?”
“It’s a delphinium. Or do you mean this one, the hydrangea?”
“That one. You know so much,” she said. Her eyes were almost sparkling.
“Mom,” I said. “You knew all about flowers. I learned all this stuff from you.”
“That’s amazing. Isn’t she amazing?” Mom said to Shedley. “How does she know these things?”
“From you, Mom. You were a great flower arranger.”
She looked oddly at me. “Who is there?”
I couldn’t interpret that one. I said. “Now you can just relax and let me arrange flowers for you.”
“Isn’t she amazing?” Mom said.

So here is my theory: for those who develop Alzheimer’s there is a correlation between the years spent acquiring language and the years spent losing language. Early language is mostly - but not always - general: flower, boy, mother, table, running, dog. Then it becomes more and more specific.
In Iggy’s case, for instance, he is onto photosynthesis, ottomans (yes, he referred to an ottoman the other day.), boa constrictors, villain, hydration, atmosphere, cement mixer, stegosaurus and killer whales. To make my conclusions more scientific, I have watched several grandchildren acquire language. Auben is now naming animals, and discussing tropical fruits and edible fish; he is learning all the words to help him understand death, and what it means that Bruno is in dog heaven. Minerva is still in the generalist phase: apple, cheese, and always, the names of her beloveds: Leda!!! Iggy!!!!
Meanwhile, for the past six years, more or less, I have watched and listened as Mom has lost language. Initially she forgot people’s names. Then went the names of particular trees or architectural styles or places or household appliances or foods.
I remember the first time she had no idea what pesto was. Pasta with pesto was a staple in our house; my mother’s pesto was a favored food of all 15 of her grandchildren. We all use her recipe, as do our children. And then one day she had no idea what this green stuff was.
So it was that first Mom lost the names of the trees and flowers: chestnut, stewartia, European beech, Koosa dogwood, gingko, American elm and black birch. Then she lost the word for that whole vegetable group, the splendid source of oxygen, shade and beauty: tree.
For now, she still has pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, adverbs and some verbs. While Iggy and his cohorts are parsing philosophical concepts, prehistoric creatures and thanatology.

*I was hoping this book - with pictures! - might spark a glimmer of recognition. Back when, Mom was an architectural historian with an especial fondness for Palladio. The pattern of a Palladian window graced all her stationary, her reams of stationary. Sadly, Palladio means nothing to her now. Forcing me to ask, for the 839th time, how is this possible?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Unlikely Meeting of Fly Fishing and Instant Gratification



CSB and I just went Wyoming to learn how to fly fish with my nephew. (Yes, the same nephew who can ably shoot, skin, eviscerate and cook an elk, but we we did not learn how to do those things.) I knew nothing about fly fishing, but had conceived the idea that it was a ‘peaceful’ sport, a contemplative pastime during which one communes with nature, ponders life’s imponderables, and exercises patience and mindfulness near running water.

But before going to Wyoming to be patient and mindful in the wilderness, yet still on the subject of fly-fishing, I achieved instant gratification at a stop light in Dobbs Ferry.

It turns out that I am one of only thirteen literate Americans who have neither read A River Runs Through It, nor have seen the movie. The other 12 are in the federal witness protection program.

I was driving through Dobbs Ferry when I realized that I really couldn’t go to Wyoming without reading this book. But we were leaving the very next day. Then came the stop light, and there was my iPhone staring at me, being affixed to this very handy magnetic gizmo my sister gave me. (It is worth pointing out that my sister is probably responsible for more than half of the useful gizmos in my life.) With a mere flick of the finger, I opened the HOOPLA app, which allows me to borrow eBooks and movies and audible books. Through the library system! At no cost! There at the stop light I entered A River Runs Through it into the search box, and immediately was given the choice of several versions of that book read aloud. I chose the unabridged version, and hit the download button. Ta-da. By the time the light turned green I was listening to A River Runs Through It. Because of course I would never ever fiddle with my iPhone while actually driving. Nor should you.

While we were float fishing on the glorious Snake River, gazing at the magnificent Teton mountains, I often had occasion to think of that moment of instant gratification at the Broadway stoplight, while I was not catching any fish at all.

Above: Our wonderful guide, Caleb, demonstrates what a cutthroat trout would look like, should I ever catch one.

No fish were harmed in creating this edition of SQD.



Friday, September 8, 2017

Untrammeled water

The day before yesterday.
First of all my computer guy’s Emotional Support Dog (Ozzie, a Papillon, admittedly a very appealing dog) peed on the red club chair in the living room. Being about 6 inches high, Ozzie stood in front of the chair, lifted his tiny leg, and squirted the red fabric. (See below. Not to scale.)


I’ve had that chair and its mate forever, at least since my grandmother moved out of her house and no longer had a sewing room. The chair and its mate were made in the 1940’s by Italian craftsman (apparently, or according to my mother, Italian craftsman made all the finest furniture) in Egypt, and resided in Bon Papa’s study in the house in Mahdi.
I had forgotten about the Italian craftsmen and their furniture, until we moved my mother into the Red House next door. Much of the furniture she chose to take with her was from her parents’ house in Egypt, and whenever she showed anyone around her new home she explained that certain pieces were made by Italians in Egypt. She had a spiel, and that was a key part of it. My mother still refers to Egypt and often will say she spent most of her life there, as if those first 15 years (minus a 4-year wartime hiatus) comprised most of her life. I don’t correct her. She no longer knows where ‘there’ is, or what Egypt is. A country? A state of mind? A French novel?

In 1956, Bonne Maman and Bon Papa moved to America, instead of the south of France or Belgium, because their children were here, spawning more children. The club chairs, along with all their other furniture, were shipped to America in a huge wooden crate. A kind of ancestor to the intermodal containers that are currently plying the seas. My mother hired a carpenter (perhaps he was Italian?) to transform the crate into a playhouse for us, the grandchildren. He installed a pitched roof, and created windows with window boxes; there was a front door and even a front porch. I spent hours in that former-crate-now-playhouse reading aloud from the Green Book of Saints for Children.

As for the club chairs, from 1956 until she moved out in the 1980’s, they were in Bonne Maman’s sewing room, and were upholstered with the strangest red, yellow and black plaid linen. It was a plaid as imagined by a Belgian lady in Egypt. They were situated nearby the large bookshelf (ditto Italian craftsmen) bearing Journeys Through Bookland, ten volumes and a guide. This series was, at least in 1909, proclaimed as a “New and Original Plan for Reading, Applied to the World’s Best Literature for Children”. In Volume IV I read, and wept, over The Dog of Flanders. I read The Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog: “But soon a wonder came to light,/ That show’d the rogues they lied:/ The Man recover’d of the bite,/ The Dog it was that died.” In Volume VIII I read Kingsley’s The Three Fishes and Poe’s Annabel Lee.

Ozzie the Emotional Support Dog peed on the chair I had curled up in and read of dead dogs, and mad dogs, and beautiful beloved Annabel Lee in her sepulcher by the sea.

I cleaned it up, of course.

Then I flooded the downstairs guest room.

It happened thusly. I needed to wash the plastic trays from our handy countertop dehydrator, because I have been making vast quantities of dried tomatoes lately. I placed the trays in the kitchen sink to soak, and turned on the water. While the sink was filling with water, I ran downstairs to check a certain closet where I thought I might have stored, for safe keeping, my mother’s collection of Middle Eastern, Asian and African jewelry. I had no need of ethnic jewelry just then, or perhaps ever. But for reasons buried deep in my obsessive psyche, I had determined that what I needed to do was photograph all my mother’s ethnic jewelry and then disseminate those pictures to my siblings, children, nieces and nephews, so they could choose pieces and I would cease to be responsible for all this ethnic jewelry. In our world of cellphone cameras and instant downloads and email, this sort of dissemination is, theoretically, easy.
I guess it is obvious that my mother also had an obsessive psyche that compelled her to amass this collection of largely unwearable jewelry (unless you are a six-foot tall Berber nomad).


The box I sought was not in the closet downstairs, so I went through the basement hearth room and up the other basement stairs and then I noticed the postman delivering the mail. I said hello to the postman, but as usual he didn’t say anything. Unlike Richie our old postman who was friendly and always told me golfing stories, our new postman is extremely shy. That is what I have come to believe. He must be pathologically shy, unless he finds me so objectionable that he will never say hello no matter how cheerful I try to be. I prefer not to think that. I still say hello and wave whenever I see him pull up, as if I were Doris Day in an old comedy. That’s how I see myself. What he sees is Bette Davis in a creepy gothic movie.

Then I had to check the mail, in case someone had written me a love letter, or written to say I would be inheriting a small Caribbean island from a distant relative, or maybe just written me a postcard of a Jackalope. None of the above arrived. But I got the idea that I might have stashed the box of Mom’s ethnic jewelry in one of the cupboards in my office, because that would be so tricky, and then I checked all four cupboards. There was no jewelry of any kind, but I did find a small Moleskin notebook which would be perfect for Leda’s drawings. She always needs more notebooks. That reminded me that when she was visiting last weekend, she left behind certain articles of clothing, mostly socks, that I had washed. I went down to the laundry room to fetch them, so I could mail her the socks along with the notebook.

I still hadn’t found the box of ethnic jewelry and I wondered if it had been stolen, but that because I had hidden it away so well, I had never noticed. Who would steal weird unwearable jewelry? Who could even think such a ridiculous thing?

I got to the laundry room and heard water dripping. Somewhere. I thought it might have started raining again, and I would need to shut some windows. But it wasn’t raining. Could the dishwasher be leaking through the guest room ceiling again? I thought we had fixed that leak. I went down the hall to the guest room and water was leaking QUITE A LOT from the ceiling. Water was coming from a certain crack and then seeping out all along a crack that meandered from the center of the room almost to the molding. But this part of the ceiling was not underneath the dishwasher. Could it have traveled so far? Or could it be from the rain earlier? But that made no sense, because there is a whole room above the guest room, not a roof. Whatever. I went back to the laundry and got a pile of old beach towels, and a couple of buckets, and put them on the floor under the dripping.
Finally, I went back up to the kitchen. Sometime long before the search for the jewelry and the postman’s non-loquacity, I had left the water running in the sink. Water was pouring from the counter onto the floor. The puddles were impressive.

Yet there is something about watching footage of hurricane flooding that puts things in perspective. In the midst of obsession, perspective.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

I walked across the yard, past the squawking chickens, to visit with my mother in her Little Red House. She was lounging on the screened porch with Shedley. Mom told me that she had brought all this lovely wicker furniture with her from the Orchard."It was there. That's where it was. Over there." She gestured towards the long bench against the clapboard. "Except this. I don't know where this came from."
Then she dashed off to get something she wanted to give me (she frequently has items for me: mail she doesn’t understand, gifts I gave her years ago, random pieces of paper) and returned with a copy of What to Wear to See the Pope. The hardback, with the cover photo I never liked and the title in all lower case letters, which I also never liked.
Mom said, “I thought you should have this. It has something to do with you.”
“I wrote it.”
Shedley was trying not to laugh. "I told her that. I showed her your name."
I almost said, Don't you remember. A collection of short stories? Some of them even funny. With a character based on a certain Belgian mother.
“Well, there it is," Mom said.
“Thanks Mom,” I said.
“Have you ever seen this before?”
“I wrote it, Mom.”
I thought about saying, Don't you remember? You came to a couple of readings. You liked it, at the time. But I didn't say that. My mother remembers so little, and certainly not my short stories. There would be no point.
“So have you seen it? I thought you would want it.”
“I have seen it. Because I wrote the book.”
“So I was right. You do want it.”
“Not really,” I said. “I already have too many copies of the book. Let’s give it to Shedley.”
So my mother handed the book to Shedley, who was still suppressing her laughter, and said, "I haven't written in this, so you can have it."
I said to Shedley, "Just don't give it back to me. Even if you don't like it."

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

I need honey raw for my French bulldog allergies

This is for you grammarians out there. I need your help.

Let it Bee received this email:
The subject line: I need honey raw for my French bulldog allergies

The text: Empty.

What would you do?

Initially I assumed the sender needed raw honey for his/her French bulldog, who suffered from allergies.


CSB said no, I had misread it, that it was the sender who was allergic to his/her French bulldog.

But that seemed strange, because why would you have a French bulldog if you are allergic to French bulldogs? (English bulldogs are another fish altogether.)

Or, if the bulldog is allergic, how can you tell?

Do bulldogs even like honey? Or miel as we say in Paris?